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Cogn Neuropsychol. 2005;22(8):959-1004. doi: 10.1080/02643290442000419.

The simulation of action disorganisation in complex activities of daily living.

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Birkbeck, University of London, UK.


Action selection in everyday goal-directed tasks of moderate complexity is known to be subject to breakdown following extensive frontal brain injury. A model of action selection in such tasks is presented and used to explore three hypotheses concerning the origins of action disorganisation: that it is a consequence of reduced top-down excitation within a hierarchical action schema network coupled with increased bottom-up triggering of schemas from environmental sources, that it is a more general disturbance of schema activation modelled by excessive noise in the schema network, and that it results from a general disturbance of the triggering of schemas by object representations. Results suggest that the action disorganisation syndrome is best accounted for by a general disturbance to schema activation, while altering the balance between top-down and bottom-up activation provides an account of a related disorder-utilisation behaviour. It is further suggested that ideational apraxia (which may result from lesions to left temporoparietal areas and which has similar behavioural consequences to action disorganisation syndrome on tasks of moderate complexity) is a consequence of a generalised disturbance of the triggering of schemas by object representations. Several predictions regarding differences between action disorganisation syndrome and ideational apraxia that follow from this interpretation are detailed.


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